Every fall, for the past few years, I have had the honor of exhibiting my work in an art show/sale for St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. The premiss of the show is to raise funds for the church by selling "faith-inspired" art. Although I’m not Catholic, this is right up my alley. Many of the pieces you will see on my blog have been in these shows. My wife, Rhonda, and I have an agreement: I can devote the time to paint for the show as long as I come up with something we would put up in our home in case it didn't sell. Fair enough.
The inspiration for this piece came from three origins. The first creative germ came from the Gospel of John, chapter 15. "I am the vine, you are the branches. Remain in me and you will bear much fruit." This scripture was read at our wedding, and has always been a core scripture for us. The second germ came from a childhood memory of Rhonda's. As a child, she used to play hide and seek under the beams of grape vines in a vineyard. She told of how light danced about underneath the canopy of grapes. She described to me how the support frames for the vines reminded her of a cross. And finally, Rhonda has always wanted a piece depicting the elements of communion in a natural way. So after blending the three ideas together, and doing some research, I created this piece entitled "The Vine".
There actually is a lot of things going on in this piece. At first glance, it looks like a cross with grapes hanging form it. But the support structure is actually "T-shaped". I deliberately hid that fact with a bunch of grapes to create the "allusion" of a cross. This makes the connection to the verse. It also speaks to one of the great "I AM" sayings about Jesus and God's Sacrificial Love that is the foundation for our love. There is a lot of light dancing about in the scene, peaking thru the leaves, ripening the grapes and casting shadows on the beam. This makes the piece very elemental with themes of Earth, Light and Communion. The grapes are turning to full ripeness. They are in the process of turning. Some faster than others. Not yet fully ripe. Not all green. So is the community of faith, or our own personal faith.
Happily for Rhonda, this piece never sold. Probably because it was really meant for her. It now hangs in our foyer. There is a lot of natural light in our foyer which accentuates the light in the painting. So if you ever stop by to visit and see it, you'll know the backstory behind it.
Wherever you are in the vine of God's Love, may you continue to bloom. And as we play in the fields of our God and come to the table of Grace, may this painting be a reminder of our identity and relationship to our Lord.